We’ve finally arrived at the pointy end of the season. For many, although very entertaining, the first and second rounds of the 2018 playoffs were just a formality to set up our conference finals.
In the era of superteams, the final four squads can be predicted from the beginning of the season. Very early on, fans were expecting to see two of the greatest offensive teams in history in the Warriors and the Rockets square off in the Western Conference finals.
On the other side, you’ve got to have little or no knowledge of the NBA not to expect LeBron to make it, and due to their blistering start without star Gordon Hayward, fans expected to see Boston as the team challenging the King.
Now that everything from game one of the season to the last games of the second round are nothing but history, we look forward to the conference finals and make our predictions.
The King, LeBron James will lead his Cavaliers into battle against a very young Celtics squad led by a man who many already refer to as coach of the year, Brad Stevens.
Unfortunately, due to injuries, the young Celtics are going to be without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward this series. They’ve been able to handle the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers, however, it’s going to take a lot more effort to bar LeBron from an unprecedented 8th straight NBA Finals.
This year, much like years prior, the Cavaliers aren’t as well rounded as the other remaining teams in the playoffs. In the second round, Rodney Hood made one field goal from nine attempts, that’s right, nine attempts in a four-game series. Fortunately for Cavaliers fans, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver have decided not to stand by and let LeBron take on the game alone. Something that’s key when taking on a fiery young Boston team.
Boston play team ball almost as well as any other team in the league. Compared to the star power they have over in Golden State, it blows minds how such a young team plays such poised possession-by-possession basketball. Definitely a testament to how well coached they are and the culture Brad Stevens has introduced.
It’s the classic battle of a team playing as one with no superstar taking on a squad being carried by one of the world’s greatest players. Will team ball prosper? Or is the King just too good? Fortunately we get to find out in just a few days as the conference finals get underway.
My prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers in 6
As expected, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets are going to meet in the Western Conference finals. Two of the most efficient offensive teams to ever play in the NBA. On the same crash course since game one of the season, both easily eliminated their first and second round opponents in five games. Both extremely capable on defense, and both with unmatched star power.
Had the NBA been without conferences, many would have predicted these two teams to make it to the Finals. But we get to see it a little earlier.
Throughout the entire season, the Rockets and James Harden have been playing with something to prove. Game in, game out blowing out opponents on route to the number one seed in the West. Fortunately for them, the number one seed reaps a reward; home court advantage. Four of the seven games will be played at the Toyota Center, including the potentially crucial game seven.
However, the Rockets aren’t just trying to defend home court against just anybody, they’re taking on a historically great Golden State Warriors. Coming off of a championship winning season, the Dubs don’t seem to be worried about home court, at least they didn’t play like it.
Riddled with injuries throughout the season, the Warriors had their worst record in four seasons with 58 wins. For any other team, 58 teams is a tremendous feat, but due to the standard fans have grown accustomed to, 58 wins for the Warriors is a little underwhelming.
However, in no way does it indicate the team is dropping off, with Stephen Curry making his return in their second round series, he and the team look as dominant as ever and are going to make it extremely difficult for the Rockets to advance to the finals.
My Prediction: Golden State Warriors in 7